Down Time

Gayle_signing photoThis post by Gayle M. Irwin

Rain pattered on the metal roof. A parched landscape drank the wetness, grasses and ground dry from several months without moisture. Thunder roared and lightning crashed, more intensely at 8,000 feet elevation than at 5,200. From the cabin’s livingroom, I watched the display and listened to the cascading water, exciting, frightening, and relaxing simultaneously. Labor Day weekend at our mountain property was cool and soggy, the weather change needed and appreciated, soothing my mind as well as the forest nearby.

cabin_Labor Day weekend

August was personally intense, with articles due to three different entities plus additional work at my “day job” due to the absence of staff members for family emergencies. September will be stressful as well, with additional stories for two other publications plus the winding down of my Vietnam veterans’ project. The final weekend of August and the first weekend of September provided me with necessary down time, space between projects and deadlines. I took advantage of this lull, traveling to Montana in late August to visit family and friends, and then driving to the mountain property for quiet time at the cabin, reading, reflecting, and writing more of my works in progress.

Office_Reading areaI also spent part of Labor Day weekend sprucing up my home office. I have a tendency to be a pack rat, and my filing system consists of boxes filled to the brim. I “get around” to organizing a few times a year, and when I was gifted with a futon from friends who were tired of the item, I looked upon that as an opportunity – create a special reading nook in my home office and get to organizing again for the year. My home office is a sunroom, boasting banks of old windows (the house was built in 1924) that, though aged, bring in wonderful natural light. But, to create this reading sanctuary, complete with new lamp, nature-themed pillows, and wall hangings from national parks, I had to clean and re-organize the office … which also meant clearing out those boxes and actually filing paperwork in my two file cabinets. That all takes time; in fact, I’m still working on the latter, but the area is coming together. I look forward to spending a lot of time there this winter as I have a cute woodstove-looking electric fireplace, helping to make the room even cozier during periods of snow and cold. And with the nature-oriented items around me, including fleece blankets and a crotchet quilt I made more than 25 years ago, I know the room will be warm and comfy this winter.

IMG_7405More “down time” comes soon. Although I have several articles due by month-end, I was able to interview some of my sources on the Friday before Labor Day and then others on the Wednesday after. So, I’ve been able to work on those stories already. Other interviews will come in a few days. This weekend I’ll take a bit more time to de-stress as my husband, parents, I travel to Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. My dad’s favorite wild animal is the elk, and in September the bulls (males) bugle and gather harems of cows (females) together. Yellowstone National Park and Rocky Mountain National Park are two of the most spectacular places to enjoy this autumn ritual. Dad turned 80 in July, so this trip to see his favorite wildlife species is part of his birthday and Christmas gifts. We’ll stay two nights in Colorado and take a good part of two days to travel in and around this majestic national park, listening to and observing the elk as well as enjoying the magnificent mountain scenery and any other critters that cross our path. Time with family, time in nature, time to unwind – all necessary and enjoyed!

bull elk_meadow

Then it’s back to the article writing life once we return – after all, editors need to be kept happy so they will keep me employed! (Especially necessary as I look to become a fulltime freelance writer in the coming year.)

How about you? What do you enjoy doing during your “down time?” And, are you due for some of that down time soon?

Enjoy your week, my friends!

 

Gayle and Mary_river walkGayle M. Irwin is a Wyoming-based writer, author and speaker. She freelances for magazines and newspapers, is a contributing writer to six editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul, and is part of the Sundown Press summer release Pawprints on My Heart. She’s authored seven inspirational dog books for children and adults. She is working on two more books, a humorous cat story for children titled BobCat Goes to School, and a reflective devotional piece called Seasons of Life, Seasons of Nature. Gayle enjoys helping pet rescue organizations and spending time in nature, especially at her mountain cabin as well as visiting America’s national parks. Learn more at www.gaylemirwin.com.

SageBigAdventureFront-small   Cody Cabin_New Book CoverImage   Sage Finds Friends_front cover   Walking_FrontCover_small   Dog Devotion Book_Cover_Final   Dog Devotions 2 Book Cover Sage Advice Cover   Blind Dog Ebook Cover_updatedMay2014   Chicken Soup_DogDidWhat_Cover   Spirit of America book   Pawprints Book

 

How to Stop The Thing That Drives You Crazy

propic11_1This Post by L.Leander, Author of Fearless Fiction

Let’s face it. We all have something that makes us grit our teeth and feel the pressure rising. Be it a friend who always calls at the wrong time, past mistakes that haunt you, not sleeping because your mind is whirling and planning for what you’ll do tomorrow, and dozens of other things.

You can stop the madness if you do a few simple exercises.

  • Meditate (try it, it really works!)file000896583812
  • Think about the negative problem in a positive way – it may change the situation entirely.
  • Ignore the thing that bothers you (you’ll have to be persistent or it might reappear.)
  • Gently tell the person making you emotionally upset that it would be better for you if she only called once a week and at a different time. Explain your situation. Honesty is always best and if he or she gets mad then it becomes their problem and not yours.
  • If you have trouble sleeping because you are planning tomorrow there are a couple of things you can do. Keep a notebook beside your bed and journal for 10 minutes about the good things that have happened during your day. It’s relaxing and will help you ignore what’s coming up.  Try quiet music and when thoughts interfere tell them to “get out!” I know that one works because I’ve used it for mistakes I’ve made in the past. Think about something or someone you love, a place you love to be ( in my case it’s either my favorite beach in Mexico or our summer home at the lake.)
  • If it’s something your spouse does it’s a little trickier, but I find that asking for a little time and being honest about my feelings works. Sometimes your spouse doesn’t even realize there’s a problem.
  • Don’t use a clock beside your bed that is red or blue. Be sure it’s green (I’m talking digital here). I learned this one in Day Treatment and it turns out a study was done on this very thing with Bipolar patients who couldn’t sleep. An even better solution is to not have a clock at all. I turn mine on its face before I go to sleep.file0001161786140-2
  • Prayer works, no matter what your faith.
  • Delving into your emotional side and figuring out why the problem drives you crazy is good and you may decide it’s not such a big thing at all.
  • I have a problem right now that is driving me crazy. I was thinking about it constantly and it often made me cry or go the other way and have such a burst of energy I couldn’t cope. My therapist and I came up with an unusual solution that I’ll share here. I set my phone alarm for every hour I’m up during the day. When the alarm rings I am in the present and as I shut it off I think of where I am right now. If it’s not a good place I then realize it and can take steps to change it, whether it be a short walk, playing with my dog, reading, etc. It takes me out of what I was doing and changes my mood for the better while I do something I like.SMARTPHONE 1

I hope some of these solutions help. I’m sure there are many more, but these are the ones that work for me. If you have other solutions or ideas, why not share it in the comments section?

 

 

You can find more information on L.Leander here:

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Inzared, The Fortune Teller

10 Extreme Tips to Marketing an eBook

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Mindfulness

propic11_1This post by L.Leander, Author of Fearless Fiction

Have you heard of Mindfulness? It’s a word that is being used quite frequently these days. Dictionary.com defines mindfulness as:

noun

1.

the state or quality of being mindful or aware of something.

2.

Psychology.

  • a technique in which one focuses one’s full attention only on the present, 2013-01-04 22.53.31experiencing thoughts, feelings, and sensations but not judging them: The practice of mindfulness can reduce stress and physical pain.

the mental state maintained by the use of this technique.

It’s a hurry-scurry world in which we live and taking a moment or two out of our day is a good thing. It helps reduce stress, thus making us more relaxed and aware of our surroundings. In a counseling class I’m taking, we are urged to stop at random during the day, think of where we are, what we’re thinking about, and focus on what we are feeling at that very minute. It does amazing things for the body, for putting oneself in the here and now, not worrying about the past or future; making one concentrate on the present and helps to clear the mind. Much like meditation, mindfulness lets you relax and forget about the busy world around you for a second. Even that minute amount of time is sufficient to place one in a happier, more relaxed mindset.

There is a lot of research on the Internet about mindfulness but I wanted to write a short post, so I’ll leave it to you to do that search yourself. Here are a couple of links I liked when I Googled mindfulness.

I like the Bell of Mindfulness because it gives you quiet music to listen to and suddenly a gong rings to bring you to attention. Very good for learning to practice mindfulness.

file0001052140987The Bell of Mindfulness

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUzBYkOJOqo

I read an article I found in Science Daily that says mindfulness has been shown to make the workplace more relaxing and less resistance is found between workers. Science Daily – Mindfulness in the Workplace

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/03/160310141455.htm

You can go to iTunes and purchase an app called The Mindfulness App ($1.99). I think I’ll give it a try.

The Mindfulness App: Guided and Silent Meditations to Relax

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/mindfulness-app-guided-silent/id417071430?mt=8

No matter how you choose to do it, try to fit mindfulness into your day. We writers tend to get so involved in our work some days that we get headaches, tense muscles, etc. Stopping for a quick minute could help alleviate that..mindDo any of you practice mindfulness?  What does it mean to you?  Does it help you de-stress?  I’d love to know

Books by L.Leander

Inzared Queen of the Elephant Riders Video Trailer

Inzared, Queen of the Elephant Riders

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Inzared, The Fortune Teller Video Trailer

Inzared, The Fortune Teller (Book Two)

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13 Extreme Tips to Self Publishing

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13 Extreme Tips to Marketing an ebook

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How Do You Deal With Stress?


propic11_1This post by L.Leander, Author of Fearless Fiction

A couple of weeks ago I read an article on Yahoo! News that gave me pause for thought.  Dan Harris, an ABC News Anchor, shared a part of his life seen by millions around the world.  During a live broadcast, Harris had a debilitating panic attack.  Unable to finish his spot, he turned it  back to Diane Sawyer.  Harris couldn’t breathe and was as surprised as anyone when this occurrence happened.  He took a good look at his life to research reasons for the attack and discovered he had three very problematic areas.  One was his frenzied attempt to rise to the top,  another was reporting from Iraq, and the third taking occasional recreational drugs on the weekend.  He was very stressed.  When he saw a psychiatrist the doctor told him the attack was most likely provoked by the drugs.

Stressed

 Mr. Harris sought to find healing.  He tried everything and nothing worked.  Meditation was suggested and, desperate, he decided to give it a try.

Mr. Harris’ idea of meditation was sitar music and chanting, but he knew he had antiquated ideas about the subject, a throwback to the era of the 60’s and 70’s.  He thought the idea might be a little crazy, however, he went to a class.  As he learned to breathe he found  peace.   Harris says the trick is to learn the breathing process to keep stress at a lower level.

Once he learned to meditate, Harris made it a daily habit, spending Meditatingbetween 1-2 hours a day.  He slowed down his life, looked around at things he had never noticed before; as his brain slowed down, and his work improved, he slept better, and quit worrying.  As Mr. Harris found answers in meditation he wrote a book entitled 10% Happier.  You can watch a video of Dan Harris’ breakdown here as he explains his experience and how he turned to meditation.

Though his earlier thoughts about meditation took a while to change, Harris overcame those preconceptions and learned to reap the benefits of meditation and relaxation.

I had much the same feeling when asked to try meditation as part of my therapy for Bipolar Disorder.  Although I had many of the same thoughts Mr. Harris did, I do know the quietness of prayer, so thought I could try it and decide then.

A free  21-day meditation from Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey was offered on the Chopra website.  I signed up, and from the first day I experienced relaxation, but it took  a few  months to learn to get quiet and kick the “mind monkeys” out of my head.  Mind monkeys are all the thoughts that creep inside while you try to stay focused and relaxed.  You’ll always have thoughts that come and go, but with practice you can ignore them.seafoam

 That meditation ended and there was a break before the Mentors Channel started with a 21-day Meditation, each session taught by different experts on the subject. When that program ended, I haunted YouTube for “guided meditation”.  Between the 21-Day classes I use YouTube and find many wonderful guided meditations.  My favorites on YouTube are those by ‘The Honest Guys.” You can search and find many uplifting and relaxing meditations from them, as well as those presented by other teachers. I prefer to have my eyes closed during meditation, although the experts say it doesn’t matter.  Meditation is your time and you should do it whenever and however you’re most comfortable. 

 I look for 10-30 minute meditations in the morning.  I get up early, make coffee, walk the dog, and meditate.  When I’m through I feel calm and ready to start my day.  I did this for several months when I had a couple of anxiety attacks and my therapist recommended I try doing an additional meditation at night.  Another 21-day Mentors Channel class started.  Instead of listening to a guided meditation, a duo sang meditations.  The name of the artists are are Deva Premal and Miten.  Deva has one of the loveliest voices I’ve ever heard.  She and Miten record together, but there are many earlier albums by Deva alone.  I now do one of these recordings before bedtime to relax.  Some of these are available on YouTube, (search for Deva Primal or Deva and Miten) but I’ve been buying songs one at a time on the iTunes store.  Here is a sample recording.

Doing two meditations a day worked well until I had a mood swing that drained me.  My therapist suggested I meditate four times a day until I felt better.  I did this by not changing my morning and evening meditations, but by adding a prayer here and there, listening to a 5-minute meditation, or sitting quietly for 5 minutes.  I’m still doing this because I have been in a severe depression for a couple of weeks.  I know it will change though.  The meditation helps as I breathe deeply and relax.

I’ve learned is that there is no right or wrong way to meditate.  I prefer guided meditations, as they seem to help me relax more, but there are scores of recordings that are just music.  Some tell you to watch the images on the screen but my mind wanders too much when I do that.  I prefer to close my eyes, listen, and feel the peace and relaxation through my body.  You’ll find what works best for you.sunset

Have you ever tried meditation?  Would you?  What are your thoughts on the subject?

Below are some links you might find helpful if you decide to try it.  I know you’ll reap benefits.

Explanation of Meditation on Wikipedia

The following video on YouTube is short and explains the benefits of meditation.

How to Meditate

My favorite meditations come from The Honest Guys on YouTube. Here are two examples.

 Blissful Deep Relaxation

 Guided Meditation for Health and Healing

 

Books by L.Leander:

Inzared, Queen of the Elephant Riders

Inzaredonecover

 

Inzared Queen of the Elephant Riders Video Trailer

 

 

 

 

Inzared, The Fortune Teller (Book Two)

inzaredtwocover

 

 

Inzared, The Fortune Teller Video Trailer

 

 

 

13 Extreme Tips to Self Publishing

13ext

 

 

 

 

 

 

13 Extreme Tips to Marketing an ebook

13marketingtipscover

 

 

 

 

 

You can also find L.Leander here:

L.Leander Website

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Fear of Falling, Part 2

propic11_1_1This post written by L.Leander, Writer of Fearless Fiction

You may wish to read Fear of Falling Part 1 before you read this because it is a continuation of that post.

We had planned a trip with friends to a town south of Guadalajara, MX and had already paid for bus tickets, etc. There was no way I wasn’t going, even after the concussion and my Doctor’s orders to take it easy. This was three weeks later. The bruising was faded and I’d have Ralph to help so I wasn’t too worried. Everything went well until the first night and I had some sort of seizure. My whole body stiffened and I shook uncontrollably. This happened a couple of times during the night but with God’s help and Ralph holding me close, I got through it. We had a nurse in our party and I checked

spasguywith her the next morning. She told me to take it easy that day, do a little shopping and come back to the hotel to rest. That’s what I did. The rest of the trip was fine and we had a great time seeing the sights of Guadalajara and did lots of shopping.

When we got back to Mazatlan I was alternately depressed and very anxious. Again, I went to my doctor and he prescribed a short dose of Xanax to sleep and a blood pressure medication because mine was very high and I’m prone to low. We were getting ready to go home to the US and moved to an apartment our friends owned right on the beach. The anxiousness and depression was getting worse and I finally went to the ER. I had wonderful doctors who spoke English and they admitted me overnight for tests. After a Cat Scan and an exam by Mazatlan’s top neurologist, I was found to be fine and went home. A couple of days later we left for the US, going through Mexico City, which wasn’t our normal route.

National Institute of Mental Health: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/index.shtml

The airport in Mexico City is one I’ll never forget. I cried for six hours straight while we waited for our next flight. I’d lost my Mexican Citizenship card and even though we looked through everything we couldn’t find it. Ralph had to watch my guitar and fiddle and the other carry-ons, while an attendant put me in a wheelchair and took me to the Office of Residency. I was told I couldn’t leave the country without the card cryingbeing stamped, so I cried some more. Finally, a kind gentleman behind the desk came over to tell me there was only one way I could leave. I’d have to give up my residency. He called for another wheelchair and I believe I was escorted through most of the airport until we came to the Aduana’s office. I explained my problem, they gave me a paper to sign, and then I had to go next door to get another signature. I brought it back, and then was told to go to the bank and pay $3000 pesos (about $30 US). Finally, I was reunited with Ralph just as our flight was ready to leave. I was exhausted and no longer a resident of Mexico, but on a tourist visa.

We got home safely, had some car issues but AAA took care of us. A couple of days later the shaking started again and I was angry and sad all at the same time. I began yelling at Ralph (who is so calm and collected he never said one mean word while I railed and ranted) and we headed to the hospital again, just in case there was something the hospital in Mexico hadn’t caught. The ER doc told me I was tired  from the trip and worried about the concussion when I shouldn’t be. He sent me home. I made an appointment madwith my doctor but she wasn’t available, so I saw a Nurse Practitioner. He was very thorough and said I had high blood pressure, which could be controlled. He gave me a very low dose of meds and a low dose of Xanax to help me seep. At this point I wasn’t getting any sleep at night.

Bipolar Symptoms and Treatment:  http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/bipolar-disorder-in-adults/index.shtml  

I finally saw my regular doc and she prescribed Zoloft to help with the depression. I continued to live in misery. One day after I had been particularly angry, something inside me knew there was a problem that the docs couldn’t find. Maybe I’d benefit from talking about it. I called and set up an appointment with a therapist as a last resort. With trepidation I walked into that first meeting not knowing if I’d done the pillsright thing. It turned out I had. I saw the person I credit for saving me from more of the terror I had been living through. The first time I went I couldn’t stop talking and crying. I told her how angry I was and all of the other symptoms. The next week when I came for my second appointment she put on some soft music, held my hands and looked into my eyes. “I’m quite sure you have Bipolar Disorder,” she said. I need to have you meet with a Psychiatrist to be sure. Then we’ll develop a plan that’s right for you.

All these thoughts ran through my mind. “I’m not crazy, what is she talking about? I’m 64 years old. You don’t just develop Bipolar Disease this late in life, do you?” The therapist told me I wasn’t crazy but had a treatable disease and once she had the information from the Psychiatrist we would continue our treatment. I made the appointment that day.

The day of the psychiatrist appointment came and I was nervous, but it turned out I didn’t need to be. I saw a woman psychiatrist in my health network and she is just as calm and kind as my therapist. She listened to me and read the therapist’s notes, agreeing with her that I had Bipolar Disorder. I felt like I’d been hit by a ton of bricks. I begged not to be put on Lithium because I’d heard horror stories about it (a lot I knew!). She started me on an anti-seizure medication that works for Bipolar as well, and a low dose of Xanax to sleep. I was already taking the Zoloft my primary doctor had prescribed.

I was so sad. I didn’t want anyone to know I had a Mental Disorder because I thought they’d think I was crazy, less of a person. I felt worthless,like I was barely hanging on.  I couldn’t write, play my music or sew, activities that I’d always hangingonenjoyed. Instead I read a book a day and worked on 1,000-Piece Jigsaw Puzzles, things that gave me peace. I did reach out to two people I knew wouldn’t judge me and would pray that I could accept my diagnosis and follow the regimen I was prescribed. One is a close friend from Mexico and the other was Cherley. Both have held my hand when I thought I couldn’t make it, prayed for me, and assured me that everything would settle down and I’d be all right. I clung to their words and I know how the power of prayer works, so I relaxed a little. Cherley kept in close touch with me, making sure everything was ok and offering her help in any way she could. (I offered to leave WW&W but she told me I had things to write about that people wanted to hear). I cut down to one post a month, temporarily, until I feel less pressure. My other friend, Shilo, and her husband came out of their way for a visit on their way home from Mexico to Canada. It was so special to know I had friends I could count on. Of course, I told my family first. Their reaction? “So what? It’s a treatable disease and you’re our sister, you know how much we love you.” My daughter already knew and was also a source of support but she was going through medical issues of her own at the time.

happy-sun_1After I got over the shock I realized I was happy. There was a name for what was wrong with me. But I wouldn’t tell anyone. I’d just keep quiet about it for now. I began taking the drugs my Psychiatrist prescribed and slowly the panic attacks and depression began to level out. I continued weekly therapy with  my therapist and a visit every six weeks to the psychiatrist for med checks and to see how I was doing. Through my therapy I realized I had been Bipolar since around the age of 17. I could pinpoint exactly when the panic attacks started, as well as the depression. How I ever got through it all until I was 64 shows my strength, or so my therapist told me. I suffered a lot of abuse and through it all I remained strong, being the main breadwinner for my family and a good mother to my children. Through it all I suffered extreme panic attacks and debilitating depressions and I had a deep feeling of unworthiness. I accepted it as part of my life, so never sought help.

Patients like Me: www.patientslikeme.com

So what do I do now? I have been seeing the same therapist and psychiatrist since this whole fiasco started, in April of 2013. The meds prescribed have had to be adjusted a bit but they have settled both the highs and lows and I sleep well. Most of my life I was a 4-hour a night sleeper. It feels good to get 6 or 7.sleepingpig My therapist and I developed a plan for me that includes meditation morning and night, and walking every day. She stressed upon me that people with this disorder need to feel safe and that a repeating certain things every day helped with that. I had never meditated before but love it now.  I go to bed at the same time every night and have the same sequence of events to get ready for sleep.  I meditate, take my meds, do a crossword puzzle and read.  All have helped.

The anger rarely shows its evil head any more, I’ve calmed down a lot, and even though depression tries to find a way in I have a plan to head it off before it gets too much to handle. I have a contract with my therapist regarding suicide (which I have never contemplated) and a list of what to do if I’m feeling out of control. She even gave me her personal phone number in case I had to call.  My therapy sessions are down to every two weeks now and my psychiatrist sessions down to every two months.

I took a pro-active stance when I found out my diagnosis. I read just about all I could find on Bipolar Disorder, its symptoms, what sends it out of control and the many great achievers who have had or do have the disease. I’m in good company, I think.

I have a great network of people who care for me. My husband deserves the most credit. He went with me to a few therapy sessions, where he learned to recognize signs of a breakdown in my routine. When I get loud or hyperactive he just puts his hand out and lowers it (meaning, you’re getting out of control). When I’m depressed he lets me cry on his shoulder and tells me everything will be fine and that he loves me very much.ralph

In the last year and a half I’ve learned a lot about myself. I am so much calmer than I have ever been. I can leave the bed unmade or the dishes undone and sit on the deck bird-watching with Ralph. I don’t make spur of the moment, rash decisions. I think about the pros and cons before I decide what the answer is. I’m not angry any more, instead, I’ve embraced the fact that I have Bipolar Disease. It doesn’t define me; it’s a disease I have that is treatable, as long as I follow doctor’s orders. I will never quit taking my meds because I never want to go through another episode like the one I had in Mexico. I am thankful for the concussion, because without it I would never have sought help. I was sure there was something wrong because of the concussion and that’s why I was so agitated and depressed.

loveisThroughout my entire life God has had to knock me on the head to get my attention. This time He did that literally and I couldn’t be happier. Life is sweet because I am learning to accept that people love me. I have learned that the abuse I suffered was wrong and that I am a good and talented person, not a nobody who can barely cook a meal or keep a man happy. That’s all a part of my past, not my future. With my therapist’s help we have addressed the issues that have haunted me for years and I feel a great weight lifted off my shoulders. I feel good!

My Psychiatrist has gone to great lengths to balance my medications so they work for me. She took me up slowly and the meds I’m on now seem to be working. They include an anti-seizure medication, an anti-depressant, and something for sleep. That, along with my therapy sessions has helped me stabilize. My hope is that others will read this and go for help earlier than I did. I have known something was wrong for a long time but I hid it and tried to ignore it. It never went away but I knew it was there, bipwaiting to pounce. What a relief to know that if that happens now I know what to do to get control before either the mania or the depression takes over. I no longer have the Fear of Falling into a deep void from which I’ll never return. I’ve quit worrying about what might happen and instead enjoy every day. When I start to become tense and loud my fabulous husband catches it right away and with the secret signal I realize I’m getting out of hand. When I’m sad I take a day off and do something I like to cheer me up. And, I’m learning not to be ashamed of the disease, but to embrace it. It doesn’t define me, but it’s part of who I am, part of my creativity and personality.

It’s been about a year and a half since I began my medication and therapy for Bipolar Disease. I’ve written nothing, not promoted or marketed my books, and rarely kept in touch with other authors. I just didn’t have the energy. It’s something I’ll have to work on soon. Up until now I’ve only wanted to stay in my own home, go out little, and try to sort through my life and what I do next.

If you’d like to learn more about Bipolar Disease here are some links. I guarantee that you’ll be surprised. I was. My husband has Diabetes. I have Bipolar Disease. Both are treatable, but with you for life. It doesn’t matter to me now. But it’s taken this year and a half to admit to the world that I have Bipolar Disorder. Guess I’m joining the ranks of the artistic and talented. I just read that Demi LaVato is speaking out about Bipolar Disease, with which she was diagnosed recently. Beethoven was thought to be Bipolar. Katherine-Zeta-Jones has Bipolar II. Patty Duke, Mel Gibson, Marilyn Monroe,Edgar Allen Poe, Richard Dreyfuss, and Patricia Cornwall are just a few of people I share my disorder with. Here’s a link to a list of other very creative who are Bipolar. If they can admit it, so can I! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_people_with_bipolar_disorder

Online Help:

www.nimh.com

Have you ever had something nagging at you that you ignored?  Was it ever resolved?  If so, you can identify with this post, I think.  There.  I’m officially out.  Now everyone knows.

Books by L.Leander:

Inzared Queen of the Elephant Riders Video Trailer

INZARED bookcoverkindle

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inzared, Queen of the Elephant Riders

 

 

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Unconscious Effort or Conscious Effortlessness by Stephanie Stamm

Steph_2 copy (2)A few weeks ago in my yoga class, as we were moving into savasana, or final relaxation, my instructor asked us to release any remaining tension we might be feeling. Then he said, “Tension is unconscious effort. Relaxation is conscious effortlessness.”

“Wow,” I thought. “That’s an insight I need to take with me when I leave class.”

I’ve practiced yoga and meditation on and off for years, and I’ve read plenty about Buddhist thinking on “doing without doing” and “effortless effort.” I had never really understood those terms. But my yoga instructor’s words made sense to me.

We all carry so much tension: in tight necks and shoulders, clenched jaws, knotted foreheads. Most often we are completely unaware of it. We tense those muscles for action—frequently for fight or flight—but we don’t know that we’re doing so. In general, tight shoulders, clenched jaws, and knotted foreheads don’t help us get our work done, but we expend unconscious effort activating those muscles. Our tension, for the most part, stems from things of which we are unconscious.shoulders

When we become conscious of them, when we realize we are tensing our shoulders or clenching our jaws for no reason, we can consciously release that tension. Generally, just by releasing our shoulders or our jaws, a sense of ease and relaxation flows through our whole body. And the work that had felt so difficult and so stress-inducing doesn’t seem nearly so bad.

I don’t mean to suggest that all we have to do to reduce stress is to relax our shoulders—though I’m surprised by how much of an effect that has. I think the statement applies to more than our tightened muscles. Sometimes what we have to release is the unconscious effort we might be holding in our thoughts and emotions, in our expectations of how a day or a project should go. Those thoughts, emotions, or expectations—again often unconscious—expend a lot of energy pushing us toward that desired outcome, even though they don’t actually participate in the work of getting us there. If we can channel the energy from those unconscious thoughts into the real work of our projects, we are already ahead of the game. Because then we are in the work and not in our expectations about the work. We are doing, but not efforting. We are doing without doing, working with effortless effort.

Most of us have experienced moments of what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls flow, when we are so immersed in an activity (usually something at which we are very skilled) that we lose all sense of time, even of our selves. Csikszentmihalyi says this is the state where we are happiest. I think that experience could also be described as “doing without doing” or “effortless effort.” In moments of flow, we are completely absorbed in what we are doing. We do not have to exert effort, because we have become one with the doing itself. I don’t know that flow could be called “conscious effortlessness,” because I don’t know that we slip into it consciously. But it does seem to me to be the absence of unconscious effort. I would guess then that the practice of conscious relaxation of tension, of converting unconscious effort to conscious effortlessness, might allow us to experience flow more easily.

Click the video below to see Csikszentmihalyi’s TED talk on flow.

Try adding some conscious effortlessness to your day—at least relax your shoulders 😉 —and let me know how your work flows.

Shoulders image from http://www.fitsugar.com.

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Stephanie Stamm is the author of the New Adult/Young Adult urban fantasy A Gift of Wings(She is working on the sequel.)

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She has also contributed stories (one fictional and one true) to the following volumes:

Undead of Winter Front Only Into the Storm Cover